The world of work has changed. Remote and hybrid working models have become the norm rather than the exception. Small and mid-sized business leaders, in the wake of the Great Resignation, are focused on employee satisfaction and retention to ensure continuity in a competitive labor market. At the same, they must keep pace with emerging technologies and determine how to advance their organizations towards digital-first, connected experiences for both their customers and employees.

Indeed, the future of work is here, and automation technology is critical to success.

 Uncertainty and business disruptions are expected to continue in 2022. Fortunately, many organizations are finding success with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and process optimization to help them weather ongoing storms and to remain competitive. Automation technology continues to evolve rapidly, becoming both more powerful and more accessible, as the rate of adoption accelerates. The following are four key trends for SMB leaders to watch in 2022:

1. The Rise of Cloud-Based Automation

Robotic Process Automation has matured and evolved significantly over the past several years. In 2022, organizations will begin transitioning from primarily legacy UI automation to API- and cloud-based automation. As enterprise organizations move towards cloud-based RPA solutions, the door opens for small and mid-sized businesses to take advantage of the same capabilities.

There are many benefits to making the transition to cloud-based automation. These solutions can be deployed cost-effectively and much more quickly than their on-premise counterparts. They also provide greater flexibility and scalability, which is especially critical for fast-growing organizations that may outgrow their infrastructure quickly.

Cloud-based automations can be deployed from anywhere, making them ideal for remote and hybrid work environments. These solutions enable teams to build fast and fail fast, paving the way for creativity and experimentation and the rise of democratization.

2. The Democratization of RPA

As RPA has matured, it has also become more accessible to people with a wide range of technical skills. Common applications combined with low-/no-code environments permit business users, sometimes called “citizen developers,” to program RPA “bots” without having a programming background.

The democratization of RPA has been driven in part by Microsoft’s move to include Power Automate Desktop in Windows 11 (and for free to all Office 365 accounts). The significance of this move cannot be underestimated. With this release, any Windows user will have the technology in hand to construct their own automation workflows. With many prebuilt actions available, this will significantly reduce the learning curve while enabling users to rapidly build and adapt programs to meet their unique applications. Some might say this is the modern-day equivalent of when Excel was first introduced.

With powerful, easy-to-use tools being made available – for “free,” no less – to virtually any business user, automation is in reach like never before. With fewer barriers to entry, automation technology is not limited to enterprises, and SMBs can try their hand at automation and reap the benefits for themselves.

3. The Growing Value of BPMS Platforms

Process design and optimization is an increasingly important capability for small and mid-sized businesses to develop and exercise (alongside methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma). Recognizing this, many Business Process Management Software (BPMS) applications have begun to incorporate low-/no-code automation features into their platforms, greatly increasing their appeal and benefits.

With built-in automation, BPMS platforms are no longer simply for documenting and managing a process; instead, process events can trigger automated actions that impact external systems, websites, and more. This capability makes the BPMS application integral to process execution instead of simply being a resource. RPA features enable business users to bring automated actions to life in real time without needing significant coding knowledge, increasing the overall value of the platform.

4. The Adoption of Automation by Default

As the worker shortage crisis continues, companies are adopting an “automation by default” mindset to help them truly do more with less. Small and medium-sized business leaders are looking at their processes and drawing distinctions between work where people are most needed versus tasks that can be automated. This distinction empowers leaders to pursue automation solutions to business problems first, improving the speed and scalability of a given process.

Unsurprisingly, there are processes in nearly every department that include rote, mundane tasks that don’t warrant human insight. From data entry to invoice processing to employee onboarding, there are countless opportunities for businesses to automate by default, roping employees in only as needed to contribute the creativity, judgment, and relational skills that bots lack.

 

This trend is not only improving workflows and increasing productivity, but it’s also fostering a happier, more engaged workforce. It’s a win-win. Automation by default enables leaders to maintain high levels of productivity and increase profitability without placing unnecessary strain on employees that leads to burnout.

Conclusion

As in years past, 2022 started fast and furious. The ongoing impacts of the pandemic and the explosion of new technologies require SMB leaders to be proactive in adapting to the changing nature of work. Automation technologies provide a cost-effective and quick-to-implement place to start. As these four trends indicate, automation is quickly becoming a central capability to successfully doing business for organizations of all sizes, so don’t delay in getting started. Be sure to follow the R-Path Automation blog or LinkedIn page to get the latest insights on process automation and optimization.

Ready to get started with RPA? Contact R-Path Automation today to learn more.